A Few Things...

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I just love the above picture.  That is exactly what I want to do right now.  Put on my cape and mask and sit down with a glass of wine.  Like the badass I am.

I survived the first week back at work.  I am more exhausted than I've been in a long time, and my head is spinning.  But we all made it.  Similar to my first week at home, I realize that I need to relearn how to do everything again.  Getting used to a new routine can be daunting.  I am also so conscious of the fact that I do not want to fall back into the same habits and work routines that I had before.  I am focused on finding the right balance.  (We talk so much about balance - I almost wish there was a different way of talking about it, but I think it's the one everyone understands.)  Much more to come as I settle into our new phase.

This weekend, I plan to sleep late, get some exercise, play with my boys, eat some apples, bake something pumpkiny, watch a movie, and mentally prepare myself for what is sure to be an exhilaratingly busy second week of work.

I've had a few things bookmarked along the way...

The One Word Men Never See In Their Performance Reviews.  I've never had this word used to describe me, but I do know people who have received it in reviews.  It's interesting to think about how men and women are evaluated differently.

My cousin, Tiffany, created a fabulous new web site.  It contains her inspiring blog but also so much more!  Check it out!

Another Weekly Menu Idea.  I'm getting used to my new dinner planning routine, too.  Planning on Saturday, or Sunday morning, shopping on Sunday (along with everyone else - I forgot how crowded the grocery store is on Sundays!).  I brought my headphones with me last week and got it done quickly, so it wasn't too bad.

I want my local pizza place to start using these boxes.  Genius!

I'm digging this online yoga challenge.  So far, most of the sequences have been rather short, so they're great for before or after another exercise session, or good for doubling up.  It's totally free, so if you have any interest, sign up and you'll get them in your inbox!

I then went on to sign up for the myYogaPro membership.  I know there's plenty of free stuff on youtube, but these are great classes, and it's so well-organized.  I think it'll motivate me to do more yoga.

Letters from husband to wife.  I just love this.  A sense of humor is the #1 thing that will keep a relationship thriving.

I loved seeing his old post on Cup of Jo.  And this one that Design Mom linked to today.  It brought me right back to Amsterdam, and I love the memories I have of such a cool city and good friends.  I totally miss the bikes!  I found myself in an REI last week, gazing longingly at the bikes.  Someday, one of them will be mine.

Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent.  Interesting.  This has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  I think we're doing okay, but I feel my son trying to push his limits.  It makes me want to tighten up even more.


My First Day...

I am back at work.  I was home for two years and yet it feels like it happened so quickly.  Time is weird.  Anyway, yesterday I woke up early, did a quick workout, showered and got dressed up, and took the train into the city.  I realized I hadn't taken the train for work since before the kids were born, and it felt like a luxury.  A half-hour of quiet thought.  After a quick stop at Starbucks, I made it to the office, met about a hundred people, forgot most of their names (I wish I didn't suck so bad at that), and spent the day getting set up. 

It felt good. 

At the end of the day, I also found out where I will be assigned, and I'm happy with the opportunity.  It starts next week, and preparations have begun, so work will pick up speed quickly.  That's definitely the best thing for someone who's been out of practice for a while.  I need to jump in with both feet as quickly as possible!

On the homefront, my husband has taken over the morning duties, and I will cover the evenings.  He will have breakfast with the boys, make lunches, and drop them off at school.  I will handle dinner, baths, bedtime, and preparing for the next day.  It feels like a good balance for now (after 1 day - ha!), and I hope it lasts. 

The boys are handling it all in stride, although my heart did ache a bit when Aaron decided to rank all the caregivers in his life by how much time he spends with them.  He said, "teacher, sitter, dad, mom".  WHAT!?  So I helped him with the math and clarified that if I'm home before 5:30, it goes "teacher, MOM, sitter, dad".  If I'm home after 5:30 then the sitter beats me, so you better believe I'm going to make it my mission to be home before then every night. 

So that's my update.  I'm in a new phase, meeting new people and learning new things.  It's exciting, and I'm choosing to remain optimistic that we're all going to be able to balance everything.  Here goes nothing.


Taking Stock - September 2014

Enjoying:  Our last Red Sox game of the season.  We went to the game on Sunday to watch our last-place team.  It was a gorgeous afternoon, and it's always fun to watch baseball.
Making:  Basil-Walnut Pesto, using up the rest of the basil from the garden.
Cooking:  A new batch of granola.  Trying to get stocked up before I start work and no longer have time for things like homemade granola.
Reading:  The Painter, by Peter Heller.  It's dark, but I'm digging it.
Hoping:  My first week of work goes well.
Wanting:  Some new work clothes.  I may do some shopping soon.
Watching:  House of Cards.  Kevin and I watched the entire first season on the flights to and from Europe.  We got home and signed up for the first free month of Netflix just so we can binge-watch season 2.
Playing:  Uno with my little guy, while Aaron is in his piano lessons.
Eating:  Ice cream every night.  As usual.
Wondering:  When I should declare it the end of "ice cream season" and put the spoon down.
Loving:  September weather.  Cool mornings and blue skies.  Hello, Fall.
Noticing:  How crabby I get when I'm stressed.  Trying really hard to keep it under control.
Drinking:  Water during the week, wine on weekends.
Knowing:  We live a charmed life.  There are times when Kevin and I stop to acknowledge this.
Feeling:  Grateful.  Hopeful.  Nervous.
Listening:  Mostly to Ryan Adams' new album.  Delta Spirit's latest is on right now.  They're both good but probably a little too sad-bastard for my current mood.  Anybody got a recommendation for something happy and bouncy that I might like?
Bookmarking:  A recipe for profiteroles.  I've always wanted to try making them, and I'm thinking our anniversary might be a good excuse.
Needing:  Rain boots.  I've needed them for years.  That's it - I'm ordering some today!
Waiting:  For the holiday-planning mood to hit me.  I think I'm too distracted by the start of work, but I know that it'll only be a few weeks before I start making lists.
Following:  The news, but most of it makes me so sad.  I understand why so many people just try to ignore it all.
Liking:  My last week at home.  With both boys in school full-time, the days are quiet and productive and relaxing.
Wishing:  I had more time to add some fun things to my to-do list.  But see above re: charmed life.  It's all good.


Change Is Hard.

I'm no good at change.  Uncertainty makes me uneasy, and I get cranky when I'm uncomfortable.  I have always worked hard to maintain routines, keep to-do lists, prepare for things way in advance, and otherwise do everything I can to stay ahead of the game and avoid uncertainty as much as possible.  In some ways, this craving of stability is not a bad thing.  It motivates me to stay prepared and organized.  It also encourages me to make decisions rather quickly.  On the other hand, this fear of change can keep me in situations for longer than I should.   

All this to say...I've been cranky lately.  I'm in a period of uncertainty, and I'm uncomfortable.  I try to remind myself that we should all do hard things every day - that's how we grow and make necessary changes in our lives.  It's true, and I can say it and acknowledge it, but it doesn't make things easier.  

I start my new job on Monday, and things are changing.  The boys are in school - and loving it, thank goodness.  My husband is going to take over the morning duties and school drop-off.  We've had to arrange after-school care.  We've arranged a new piano teacher for Aaron, and Nathan starts soccer next week.  I will be starting a new job and a commute into the city.   I'm trying to move through the list of uncertainties and check them off as quickly as possible, but it all takes time.  I don't know yet where I will be working, and I am reminded of one difficult aspect of consulting - the not knowing where you will be staffed next.  I've just got to embrace that.  

It's all good.  I know we're on the right path.  I'm just very much looking forward to settling down into our new routine.  Fall feels like the right time to be embarking on a new challenge.  It has always felt like the beginning of the new year to me.  The crisp fall weather has finally arrived here in New England, and I continue to take deep breaths and know that with every day and every decision, we're one step closer to achieving that new normal.  


House Update - Family Room

It's been a while since I've posted a house update.  After finishing the big renovation two years ago (has it been that long?), we've slowly made changes and additions to the interior.  I thought it was time to provide another update on the family room.  Since last posting about it, we added a sectional couch, new pillows, coffee table, and a ficus tree.

I'm so excited about it!  I love this room now.  The couch is big enough for all of us to relax, the coffee table has a soft top that's great to rest my feet on, I love the bright colors we added with the pillows and mirror...  It came together just as we wanted, and it makes me happy to see it every day.  Yay!

built-in bookshelves between the family room and kitchen


Highs and Lows...

It has been so long since I've posted here.  I've thought about it, but I somehow couldn't get the words out.  We are in a time of transition, and that has made it difficult for me to formulate my thoughts in any coherent way.  We came home from our amazing vacation - the boys keep asking me when we are going to go back to Amsterdam, amazingly not remembering (or caring about) the weather but only that we had a ton of fun.  We spent a few days at home, doing laundry and trying to organize ourselves, and then the new school year began.  

I have found myself oscillating wildly between good moods and bad.  I am not one who can get over moods easily.  I generally have to wait them out, reminding myself that this too shall pass.  I caught another cold - this time a bad one - on the flight home, and I am not a good sick person.  I mostly just want to lie on the couch and be left alone.  I managed one afternoon of this, but then I had to pick myself back up again.  Being a mom doesn't stop.

Then came the first day of school, and especially since it was Nathan's first day at the same school as Aaron, it was exciting and so much fun.  It was a great day, and thankfully both boys are happy to go to school every day.  

We managed one last trip of the summer - a weekend down in New York, visiting our good friends.  My moods followed me there, but we always have a great time with them, and this was no exception. This week, I've been focused on tackling my to-do list, getting as much done as possible before my return to work, which is rapidly approaching.  I've done the shopping, organized the pantry, taken one car in, the other goes in tomorrow, I've cleaned and organized and updated the calendar...  And behind all this is the underlying stress of not yet having a sitter lined up to watch the boys after school once my job begins.  

I haven't had time or energy to even think about the job.  My first day is a week from Monday, and I don't feel ready.  I hope I will be when the time comes, though.  

As I drink another much-needed sip of wine, I realize that I'm probably still not expressing my thoughts in any coherent way.  Rather I'm just giving you the run-down of what's been going on.  That's okay too, I suppose.

Painting by Cy Twombly


Rainy Days in Amsterdam

Our visit to Amsterdam really could've sucked.  We were there for five days, and it rained on every single one.  I was also still getting over a cold, and my suitcase got lost on the way!  I spent the first three days without all my clothes, toiletries, glasses/contacts, our raincoats...  Wow, when I write all that down, I am amazed that we didn't have a crappy time.  In fact, our trip was so much fun!  The kids never complained about the rain, and we certainly didn't let it deter us from getting out and doing everything we wanted to do.  

We stayed with my fabulous friend Sara and her family.  It is always so much more fun to get to know a new city from someone who lives there, and I really did fall in love with Amsterdam.  It's such a cool city.  Shortly after we arrived, we decided to go out to dinner, so we all hopped on bikes and headed out!  I honestly can't remember the last time I rode a bike, and it felt so good!  They live close to everything, so we were always an easy bike ride away from our destination.  That was especially important when we had to head home to dry off!  

Activities included playgrounds every day, a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, a Lego exhibition, a canal boat tour, and lots of playing soccer and eating out.  The Van Gogh Museum was a definite highlight - we did a scavenger hunt with the kids that was not only fun, but also enabled us to spend enough time in the museum to really appreciate it.  Very cool!  We also got a babysitter and managed an adults-only night out, so we got to see the city at night and enjoy amazing Indonesian food and adult conversation.  

I really loved our time in Amsterdam, and I think the rain and the lost bag only made it more memorable.  Now we just need to figure out when we can go back!

Me and my wonderful friend Sara, whose clothes thankfully fit me

We all had fun on bikes!

After a certain amount of time outside in the rain, you just have to let go of all fashion sense and go with practicality.  Kevin called me his "little sanitation worker" in this get-up, but it kept me dry!

We had to stop for the obligatory windmill shot.

This picture makes me so happy.  A rain-free and kid-free night out in Amsterdam!


A Beautiful Time in Spain

Gorgeous beaches

The view from our front door

Observations and reflections on a wonderful vacation in Catalonia, Spain:

Jet lag is tough, but the transition is easier when you embrace the typical Spanish schedule.  Late wake-up, lunch at 2, dinner at 9.

Traveling with kids is getting easier.  Hooray!  Having a pool is imperative, though.

The set-up at the place we stayed was absolutely perfect for our group.  We could linger a bit longer at lunch while the kids played in the pool.  We could enjoy a late dinner at the restaurant while the kids slept or watched a movie.  It was great.

The beaches were close by and gorgeous.  Green water, cliffs, and lots of rocks to collect.  The sandy beaches meant building sand volcanoes.

The food.  Oh my gosh the food.  Patatas bravas.  Mussels ("moos clues") every day.  Paella that takes hours to prepare but is so worth the wait.  Crisp rose.  Butifarra.  Fresh tomatoes from the garden.

My two-year-old nephews, moving and laughing and talking non-stop, in all three languages.  "Ding-dong!"  "Open close?"  "Agua"  "Piscina" ...

Although traveling with kids is absolutely getting easier, we still had five boys with us, including twin two-year-olds.  My sister and her husband had to leave the beaches early in order to get back for naps, and pool-time was fun but definitely not relaxing while the twins were in the mix.  The older boys were relatively easy during the day but proved difficult at times at night, when we were attempting our kid-free dinners down in the restaurant.  One of my favorite and also most exasperating memories of the trip was our visit to Paratellada.  It is a really beautiful town, and we had envisioned being able to sit and enjoy a mojito while the boys ran around the square.  Unfortunately, the boys disagreed with our plan and proceeded to run in every direction.  We did get the mojitos, but I'm not sure I remember drinking it and I'm positive none of us ever sat down.

So the trip was not without its challenges.  I found myself looking enviously at people lingering over long lunches at the beachside restaurants, reading newspapers and drinking their wine and leisurely enjoying the views.  This is my confession.  That said, it was a fabulous week of family vacation, with all that that entails.  And if you're going to have to deal with parenting, how nice to be able to do it in the gorgeous Spanish countryside.  I did relax, and I even finished a book!  I deliberately took time to take in my surroundings and be grateful for being there.  It was wonderful.

Lots of pool fun

Here's the whole group, with the pool to ourselves

Synchronized pool jumping

Lots of time spent wandering around medieval Spanish villages

I had to include this one of me and my handsome boy, relaxed and sun-kissed

A view of Sa Tuna from the cliffs


Where I Am...

When you read this, I will be exploring Amsterdam with my family and friends.  Finally - a proper playdate with Sara and her adorable kids!  I'm thinking we will be bike riding, cruising the canal, touring playgrounds, and maybe catching some Van Gogh.  I'm so excited to visit a new city and to see friends we so rarely get to see.  

So hello from Amsterdam!  I'll be back next week with lots of pictures.


Where I Am...

I'm in Spain right now!  I have no connectivity, so I am posting this ahead of time.  Just to let you know where I am.  Hopefully at this time I will be exploring a neat little Spanish town in Catalonia.  And in a couple hours I will be watching my boys play in the pool with their cousins, and then I will enjoy some wine as we decide what to do for dinner.  Making simple decisions.  Soaking up the sunshine, catching up with my sister, and being far, far away from our normal, everyday routines.  


Recently Read...

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.  I adored this book.  Beautifully written, and I definitely felt like I really got to know and understand and feel for the main characters.  Unique and not predictable at all, I found myself reading slowly on purpose so I could savor every word.

One More Thing, by B.J. Novak.  A great book to have on your nightstand, because the stories are mostly very short.  Easy to read a few before bed.  The stories are original and funny.  Not especially deep, or detailed.  But it's a fun read.

Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend, by James S. Hirsch.  As usual, I have to pick up at least one baseball book every summer.  My brother passed this biography down to me, and I had fun learning more about Willie Mays.

One Plus One, by Jojo Moyes.  It took me all of three days to devour this one.  I don't think it's quite on par with her other books that I've loved - I felt like I could see the movie, starring Rachel McAdams sporting a British accent and some handsome British actor - and it was fairly predictable.  But I loved it anyway.


What Do You Want To Do?

When I started telling people I was looking to go back to work, the first and most common question I got was, "What do you want to do?"  It sounds simple enough, but that's a deceptively complex question.  They would often follow it up with questions like, "Do you want to work part time?" or "Do you want to do the same thing you were doing before?"  My typical response included something like this:  "My biggest priority is to find something that will allow me to balance work with my home life.  So I'm going to start by looking at companies close to home.  I will ask for flexibility or part time.  What I do is less important to me than being able to do it and still have time for everything else."  

That last line.  I really meant it.  When I started the search, I just wanted a job.  I knew I wanted to go back to work, but I didn't really care what it was.  I just wanted something to do, something that would enable me to contribute financially to our family, but a job that would be easy enough/close enough for me to still do all the other things I wanted to do.  

So I started applying to jobs that were close to home, as well as jobs that I knew I was overqualified for.  Then I got a few interviews.  One was with a company really close to home.  One was with my old company.  When I started interviewing and talking to companies about the specific jobs and meeting the people with whom I'd be working....my thought process changed.  I realized that I did care.  I realized that I don't want to go back to a work situation where I'm just putting in the time in order to get a paycheck.  Those last couple of years before my break...I was miserable.  I don't want to do that again.  If I'm going to take time away from my kids and my family in order to work, it needs to be worth it.  It needs to be something that I will enjoy, something that I will be proud of, something that will motivate me beyond the paycheck.  

The job that is close to home is a good job.  It's a small company, and I think I could do well there.  The job with my old company would be very easy for me to do.  But I interviewed for another job as well.  It's in the city, so the commute will be awful.  It's actually a consulting job, so I'm not actually sure where I will be working every day - it depends on the client I am assigned to.  And of course it is full-time and it won't necessarily be easy.  But as I talked to people about it, I realized I started getting excited about the idea of being in consulting again (It's what I did the first half of my career).  I also realized that I really liked every person that I met with.  Smart, ambitious, cool people who lead full lives and have many interests both inside and outside of work.  I want to be around people like that.

They offered me a job yesterday, and I'm hopefully going to get the written offer and officially accept it before leaving for our trip at the end of the week.  I will start next month.

Ah!  And then I will stress out for a while until I figure out how we're going to do everything.  But I know we will.  We will find someone great to pick up the boys from school, and we will probably hire a house cleaner once we get to the point where we realize we don't have time for that any more, and I will find more recipes that I can make on the weekends and turn into new quick and easy meals during the week.  I will squeeze in occasional early bouts of exercise during the week and start exercising on the weekends again.  It will all work out.  And when I get settled in to my new job, I hope I'm able to say that it's all worth it.  I feel pretty good about it right now.

PS - Have you seen this video of Michelle Obama?  She speaks as someone who truly understands the struggles of balancing family with a professional work life.  Check it out.


Newport and the Month of Fun...

Entering July, we realized we had really fun plans for every single weekend, so we entitled it the "Month of Fun".  And it was!  We had a wonderful week at the lake, a visit to the Cape, a fun weekend in Maine with family, and we capped it all off with a weekend in Newport!  Whew - that's a lot of driving! 

Newport was a lot of fun.  I have to remind myself that my boys are 5 and 7 - not quite old enough to want to sit still for long periods of time to listen to music.  I came prepared with lots of diversions, but we also spent a lot of time in the family tent, which is thoughtfully full of crafts and snacks and even included a couple sets of corn hole.  We played games and did crafts while still getting to enjoy fabulous music on the main stage.  I did also make it to one of the smaller stages to see The Oh Hellos, which was my favorite show of the day.  Aaron stayed with me and agreed they were a ton of fun.  All in all, despite a few sprinkles in the middle of the afternoon, it was a beautiful day full of beautiful music.  

If you like that sort of thing, you could listen to a few of the shows we saw.  NPR has several of the main stage concerts online, including Nickel Creek, Aoife O'Donovan, and Shovels & Rope.  They were all really good.

So our month of fun is over, and we haven't even gone on our big trip yet!  Only 12 days until Spain and Amsterdam!  Wow I'm spoiled.  


Newport Folk Festival Preview

photo via theBERRY

It's Newport time again!  We are making our 3rd annual visit to the Newport Folk Festival tomorrow, and I can't wait!  It is seriously one of my favorite days of the year.  One of these years we will make it a whole weekend, but for now, one glorious Saturday a year works.  

I've been strategizing over the show schedule for a couple weeks now, and I think I'm settled on our plan.  It wasn't quite as grueling as it has been in years past, although I truly want to see everyone!  

Here's the plan.  Aoife O'Donovan starts us out in the morning on the Fort (main) stage.  Should be a lovely way to start the day.  Fingers crossed for warm sunshine and cool breezes.

We will then head to the smaller Quad stage to check out The Oh Hello's.  I am really excited to hear these guys live.  Should be fun.

On to the Harbor stage to see J. Roddy Walston and The Business.  Awesome.  Aaron promised he will dance with me when they play "Marigold".  I expect a rock-out session, with lots of dancing and singing along.

It killed me that we missed Shovels & Rope last year, so I was ridiculously excited that they are back again.  And playing the Fort stage!  I might have to go up front to the dancing section for this show.  

And this song.....it's from their new album, out next month.  I keep playing it over and over...turning it up real loud and singing along.  It's infectious.  

We're going to hang around in front of the Fort stage for the rest of the afternoon, because really, there's no reason to move when they keep putting on great music.  Deer Tick will be fun to watch.  I've been going back to their latest album a lot in anticipation.

Then Nickel Creek!  I've been enjoying their latest album - their first in many years - so I'm excited to hear them play live.

And how's Jack White for a headliner!?  I seriously love his latest album.  He is going to kick ass, and I can't wait to see it.  Hopefully the boys will still be going strong at this point.  Jack will be loud and crazy and awesome and a perfect way to end a fabulous day of music.


A Few Things...

Just a few things I've run across lately...

Have you watched Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee yet?  It's a web series by Jerry Seinfeld - basically he takes a famous friend out for coffee, and the show is their conversation.  It's very entertaining.  I loved the most recent episode, with Jon Stewart.  I also really enjoyed Sarah Jessica Parker.  And Tina Fey.  And Ricky Gervais.  And Louis CK.  Oh my gosh Alec Baldwin cracked me up.  So many good ones.  You get to see a little of their real personalities, which can be fascinating when you only know them as their characters.

I love Eddie Vedder.

Every now and then, Kevin will throw out a comment about Harvard into a conversation, and my reaction is always "our kids are not going to Harvard".  Of course you can get a good education at Harvard, but something about it - and the rest of the Ivy League - has always made me uncomfortable.  I think this article helps articulate what it is.   I want more for my kids.

Here's another trick for getting your kids to try new vegetables.

Tina Fey and Jason Bateman are awesome.  Here's yet another movie I want to see.

Being informed and fashionable is natural for women.  I liked this opinion piece in the Washington Post.

I am going to Amsterdam in just a few weeks!  I loved reading Simone's post about her recent visit.

Holy wow this is an amazing transformation.

Born in the USA turns 30 this year, and there is a tribute album.  Must check it out.

I think about how good my kids have it all the time.  We are lucky to be able to provide so much for them, and yet I worry about spoiling them.  How do we ensure they understand?  This article is good and in line with our way of thinking.

I like reading inspiring parenting posts, and I've run across a few good ones lately.  Sometimes they are too short to be well-balanced, but they often provide good reminders.
This one reminded me to slow down.
This one made me stop and think about the questions I ask them at the end of the day.
This one made me feel good about our full bookshelves.
This one made me smile and think of my two awesome boys, who never stop, get pee everywhere, and love their Mom.


What's Going On...

I love that we live near the coast.  I really don't think I could ever live too far away from the ocean.  To be honest, we don't go very often, but I like knowing it's there, and we do make it to the beach at least a few times during the summer.  In fact, we've spent the last two weekends on the beach.  The first was a beautiful weekend with friends on Cape Cod, and this past weekend we were in Maine.  

We have visited the same town in Maine every summer for five years now, and I think it is a pretty solid family tradition at this point.  It's a perfect long weekend trip (actually we could easily spend an entire summer here!) - not too far away, great hotel with indoor and outdoor pools, walking distance to everything, lots of good restaurants to choose from, beautiful beaches, harbors, shops, etc.  It's great.  

What else is going on?  Well, my job search continues.  The boys started camp last week, and it was perfect timing, since I had interviews every day!  I have two good possibilities at this point, and I'm encouraged by the fact that I've made progress so quickly.  Both jobs have pros and cons, of course, and although I've been trying to soak in the family vacation moments, I must confess that I find myself thinking about my future employment pretty much all the time.  In addition to thinking about what our new schedule will look like, I've been contemplating after-school care for the boys and managing their activities.  It's intimidating to say the least.  Overall, though, I feel optimistic and positive about the whole venture.  

When I'm not interviewing or job searching or emailing contacts, I'm exercising and tackling house cleaning/organizing tasks.  Today I started cleaning out the fridge.  Ick.  But oh it will feel so good when I'm done.  I want to be as organized as possible when my return to work begins.  I also want to appreciate my last weeks at home.  I'm thinking I need to do something a bit decadent next week...   

As I was taking pictures of the boys running into the (very cold!) ocean in Maine, I realized that I always take the same picture.  Every year, the same beach.  It is already fun to look back and see the boys growing.  My, how the time flies...


Outdoor Living...

Family gathering around the bonfire...photo by my cousin Lynne.

We had a beautiful week in New York, on Lake Ontario.

Glorious sunsets every night.  It's so hard not to try to take a picture of every one, but I did manage to sit still and just watch for a while.

Bedtimes have been pushed (way) back, mornings have been lazy.  

Dirty feet from being barefoot all day.

We picked cherries, which I realized I had never done before.  Trees bursting with ruby-colored fruit, we could pick them by the handful.  So sweet.  We ate and ate and ate.

Sticky popsicle faces.

We enjoyed a day at the amusement park.  The boys had their first ride on a roller coaster, which was big enough to make me squeal with laughter too.  We spent time in the water park, riding in pairs down the big water slide.  I felt like a kid.

Suitcases exploded in the tent, and yet I loved the outdoor living.  Sleeping outside in the fresh air, reading by the light of the lantern, early morning yoga while the boys slept in.

Dinner for 50.  It was an impressive gathering of family.  I loved catching up, and it was fun to see my boys play with cousins (actually mostly second cousins) they just met.

We had one morning of fun with the boat.  The boys and I rode the Gladiator, and Aaron got to go out riding and swimming with the big kids.

Singing around the bonfire.  Aaron sang a couple songs with me as I played on my guitar, and it made my heart swell.

Burnt marshmallows.  The best kind.

Awe-inspiring starry night skies.   I looked up until I saw a shooting star.  And then I looked some more.

I came home feeling refreshed, full of fresh air and love.  It's no wonder this is one of my favorite places in the world.



My baby is five.  We celebrated with a Hotwheels party at home.  Racetracks, an obstacle course, a piƱata, and ice cream cake.  A few things about my sweet and beautiful boy...

1.  His favorite color changes by the day, but most often it's still blue.
2.  He still loves pasta, but he chooses grilled cheese or pizza most often now.  He will eat some meat, but only selected kinds.  He does really well with most veggies.  
3.  Cereal for breakfast, although he'd have waffles or pancakes every day if I made them for him.
4.  His favorite TV show is Wild Kratts.  It's basically the only one he watches.  It's pretty remarkable how much he has learned about animals as well as geography from watching this show.
5.  He loves legos.  He plays with his mini figures all the time.
6.  He's done with preschool, and he's excited to be in the same school with his big brother in the Fall.
7.  He still turns everything into a gun, a sword, or a bat.  I'm eagerly waiting for this phase to end.
8.  He plays on his own quite a bit, and he creates little worlds for himself and his toys.  It's so cool to watch.  
9.  His artistic flair points to large, dramatic scribbles, but he has added some recognizable objects.  These include people - including belly buttons!, rainbows, houses, grass and trees...
10.  He loves riding his two-wheel bike, but his scooter is still his favorite.  
11.  He loves baseball.  Having batting practice in the back field, playing catch, running the bases...
12.  Every night at bedtime, we read a couple stories, and he then asks for a couple toys to play with in bed.  A couple superheroes, a bunch of mini figures, a few hot wheels cars...  
13.  He still has his blonde hair.  I hope it stays - it's beautiful with his dark chocolate-brown eyes.
14.  He is getting stingier with his hugs and kisses, but I still get one every morning and every night.  I steal more when I can.  

Update:  I forgot to mention this and I don't want to ever forget it.  About a week before his birthday, I told Nathan that I wanted him to stay 4 forever.  Four is so sweet, and snuggly, and fun, and awesome.  He said, "Mom, I can't stay 4.  I have to turn 5, and then 6, and then 7..."  I said, "But why?"  His response?  "I don't know, Mom, that's just the way life works.  But 5 will be awesome too."  Oh my goodness I just adore this kid.


Recently Read

TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann.  I really enjoyed this one.  I loved 'Let the Great World Spin', which is by the same author, so I had high expectations.  It delivered.  The author weaves several stories together, and it's fascinating to think about how our lives are impacted by those who came before us and how they may have an affect on people in the future.  He also uses the historical facts surrounding some famous men as a backdrop, but the main characters in the book are fictional women who merely brush past those men in life.  Beautifully written.

The Dinner, by Herman Koch.  I had high expectations for this book, too, especially when you read the reviews on the cover.  On the cover, Gillian Flynn ('Gone Girl') writes, "Chilling, Nasty, Smart, Shocking, and Unputdownable."  So naturally, that's what I expected.  Overall, it was an okay book, and it would probably be a good one for a book club, because I can see the discussions it would naturally start.  How far would you go to protect your children?  I wouldn't go so far as to use those descriptors, though.  I'd say it was smart, thought-provoking, and a decent read.

This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz.  This book is so refreshingly different.  The writing is raw and unique, and it is written just as people talk.  I could hear the voices as I was reading.  The characters are Dominican, which I will admit is a culture that I am not very familiar with, and the setting is the Northeast US - specifically New York and Boston.   Overall, I didn't feel a ton of emotional resonance, but I think that's primarily because the topic (basically the main characters cheats on all his girlfriends) and culture is so foreign to me.  I still enjoyed it and found it fascinating.
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